9-24-15 Compassionate Kindness

Opening Words
We arrive out of many singular rooms, walking over the branching streets.
We come to be assured that brothers and sisters surround us, to restore their images
on our eyes.
We enlarge our voices in common speaking and singing.
We try again that solitude found in the midst of those who with us seek their hidden
Our eyes reclaim the remembered faces, their voices stir the surrounding air.
The warmth of their hands assure us, and the gladness of our spoken names.
This is the reason of cities, of homes, of assemblies in the houses of worship.
It is good to be with one another. Ken Patton


…It (kindness) can be seen as an emotion, motive, or action. Doing kind things that
bring happiness to others has long been recognized as being helpful to ourselves too.
Indeed, some recent approaches to happiness involve doing random acts of kindness to
somebody each day. Kindness may not require any courage at all and it can be
pleasurable to do (such as buying someone a birthday present or going next door to cut
an elderly neighbors lawn). It can be associated with feeling good about ourselves and
for this reason many psychologists recommend it precisely because it has positive
effects on our own moods and emotions. In this sense it can be seen as having a selfish
component. In fact, the Dalai Lama often says that the best form of selfishness (i.e. the
one that brings the highest dividend to oneself) is being kind to others. Simply put, if you
spread sunshine to others it can brighten you up to.
The ideas that somehow our compassionate behavior should have no positive feedback
to ourselves is simply wrong. Not only do we experience other people’s gratitude but
more importantly we are stimulating brain systems that can be good for us. Even if we
dismiss gratitude we can’t ignore the fact that acting compassionately affects our brain.
On the other hand, if we engage in compassion only because we wanted to be liked and
be seen as nice, or we are acting out of submissiveness, then our motivation is not
really compassionate and therefore it may not have the same impact. Paul is currently
researching this.
So, what determines compassionate behavior in any given situation can sometimes be
tricky and for this we need wisdom to recognize that many of our motives and behaviors
are actually mixes and blends-some will be conscious to us, others will not.
Nonetheless, we can still spend time openly reflecting on what compassionate behavior
in any particular situation might be and we can pose ourselves the question: What is the
compassionate thing to do in this situation? By slowing down and reflecting we can
access our inner wisdom. The problem is that people simply don’t stop and ask
themselves the question! Sometimes compassionate behavior will require courage,
other times kindness and often both.

Mindful Compassion p.125 Gilbert and Choden
Check out street loving kindness short clip-we will watch it Thursday.

Closing words

Because of those who came before,
we are;
in spite of their failings, we
because of, and in spite of the
horizons of their vision,
we, too, dream. Barbara Pecan

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